Howie Alexander – keys
John Hall – bass
Jevon Rushton – drums
Pianist Howie Alexander‘s weekly jazz session, Interval Monday, has recently resurfaced at the Eclipse Lounge on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. The ongoing series originated in 2007 at the former Ava Lounge location in East Liberty and, at that time, featured Alexander accompanied by bassist Paul Thompson and James Johnson III on drums. The format of the evening is a first set by the Interval Trio and a second set that is open to guest musicians and vocalists.
Unfortunately, I had not made it out to one of these in quite some time, a few years actually. To be honest, my absence was largely due to the smoother R&B/Soul direction that these nights sometimes took as a result of guest vocalists and I’m also not always the biggest fan of piano trios. But, when the opportunity presented itself to go the Eclipse last night, I jumped on it and I was glad that I did.
Most of the shows I attend in Pittsburgh feature several familiar faces (Opie, Throckmorton, Thompson, Stellute, Williams, etc.), so it’s refreshing to see some of these guys that I don’t see very frequently or have never seen (in this case, John Hall). I’ve seen Howie and drummer Jevon Rushton on several occasions but it’s been years. All three of these guys are solid musicians and sounded amazing but the highlight for me was Rushton, who absolutely killed it all night on half a drum kit (kick, snare, hi-hat, & a couple of cymbals) with more enthusiasm and emotion than I’ve seen in quite some time. The guy looked like he was having a blast. The set did feature hints of the smoother and more soulful side of the jazz world as mentioned above. But, overall, I’d say there was more than enough genuine impulsive raw energy to hold my interest and to make me want to come back soon.
The video above was their take on Herbie Hancock‘s “Watermelon Man” from the first set. I dug the loose, spontaneous vibe here and the variation of rhythms. The trio’s interplay was fantastic as was the feeling that even the musicians didn’t really know where they were going to end up. Enjoy.